Women As Lovers Import
It's a beautiful thing when a band goes out on a limb to make its most personal and strangest work. But when that work is also greatly accessible (and we mustn't forget that the two aren't incompatible), when you'd bet even money that this is also going to make them big stars, that's cause for celebration. Jamie Stewart has been making fragile and super-intense music for years. He's gained a strong cult following based on his provocative lyrics, frayed rhythms, and beyond-emo vocalizings. There's nothing precious about Women as Lovers, which is named after a work by the Austrian feminist author Elfriede Jelinek. Righteous and necessary political statements ("Gauntanamo Canto") edge into party songs (a brilliant cover of the Freddie Mercury/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure," with guest vocals from Michael Gira) in a way that gives both more weight. You might say that this is Xiu Xiu's Dub Housing, or that it sounds like the Arcade Fire scoring a David Lynch film. Either way, it's amazing. --Mike McGonigal
queenのunder pressherのカバーがあったり、前作Air Forceから入ってきたCarelee Mcelroyの女声ボーカルが板に付いて、
Full disclosure, I enjoy pretty much the entire catalog, so if you're convinced that the emperor has no clothes I'm not going to convince you otherwise.
First impressions: I liked it right off the bat. It seems a bit richer and more melodic than many Xiu Xiu offerings. A Xiu Xiu album can be claustrophobically dense, or almost frustratingly sparse. Or both. Women As Lovers has a number of standout tracks that others have pointed out, but it also has an overall mix of really beautifully recorded guitars (and other instrumentation but the guitars really stand out, especially the acoustics) and really dirty, distorted digital noise. It even has a fairly faithful Bowie cover featuring M. Gira of the Swans as a fun bonus!
Upon repeated listens: My appreciation of it grew. The recording still sounds great to me, the lyrics and singing can be harrowing, the music can be surprisingly delicate or oppressively intricate. It seems a little bit more crafted than many Xiu Xiu albums and I think this is to its benefit. I really enjoy Fabulous Muscles (duh!), The Air Force, this one, Angel Guts, and the Nina Simone tribute in case anyone was wondering. The others are more slow burners for me, which is not a bad way to be as they will no doubt grab me by the lapels on some future listen.
I hear a lot of people griping that they think the music isn't avant garde enough or the Jamie is pretentious or whatever... without trying to start anything I'd just like to say: y'all are projecting. This is intense music, it's subject matter transgresses into all kinds of taboos. It's natural to think that Stewart is projecting onto the audience, or that he's revealing only authentic internal ugliness... but that's also kind of a simplistic reading of his output. Bruce Springsteen has to tell people all the time that his songs are not autobiographical. These guys are musicians and storytellers. I know we want them to be unfailingly authentic, but they are also humans and entertainers. They can make whatever music they want. Anywho, enough commentary.
I think Women As Lovers is a fairly accessible Xiu Xiu release (as such things go) and I recommend it highly. Fabulous Muscles might be the best place to start, but if you have the opportunity to hear this one don't miss it.